A Woman’s Ordeals

Many Westindian women found honest work following the work camps and washing and cooking for the laborers.

Sadness held us together as Bea continued her story. “All I could do is tell the boys them to take me to see him. ‘Take me to him,’ I said to them. So they take me to look at him an’ I still could not believe that he was dead. They, I mean we, all bury him and had the wake in this same house.” She sensed that I was grieving for her lost lover of yesteryear so she switched the conversation to a more pleasant note. “You should bring your family and stay with me a couple of days,” she said and I found words enough to respond. “I will,” I answered.

It was late for me to be getting home so I bid my friend Bea farewell and walked the long road home. During my walk scenes of the story related to me by the old woman reminded me of those womenfolk of yesteryear when young men like me lived in huts and slept on earthen floors like barracks. The whole scene with those women following the men on the plantations reminded me that nothing had changed since those early days of construction of railways and mines or the planting of the first banana plants.

Bea had given me a history lesson in life I was still living, of people who had lived it long before I was born, days way into the past century when working men had troops of women following behind them on work sites to furnish hot meals at lunch time. My thoughts about those days awakened scenes of women visiting the barracks making arrangements for washing and repairing clothing. But, she had also told me of a woman’s ordeals.

I walked along in the darkened night thinking of my own personal predicament and those days when working men could count on clean clothing even when the rains would not let up. The times when men like the men I had come to know and respect had to work days on end in the constant rainy weather. They made me remember those days when I had to work under stormy skies, hoping that it would rain just long enough to soften the ground, or pray, perhaps, that it would stop raining altogether after days of torrential downpour. Yes, nothing much had changed it seemed.

However, Bea had made me feel that my present reality was boring since there wasn’t any entertainment available that I really wanted to partake of. She reminded me that I did not drink alcoholic beverages, or found any joy in gambling, and that American movies had become unexciting to me. But according to Bea life in the olden days was not all work and no play. I was looking forward to the morning light so that I could return to finish that yard job I had taken on, since that old Bea had me thinking up some questions I wanted to ask her as we surely would resume our story telling session.

This story continues.

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